Officials Say Education, Net Distribution Have Improved

Although the numbers show an increase in malaria deaths in parts of Cambodia over the past year, health officials say they have better control over the disease as an education campaign and the distribution of mosquito nets in­creases.

“Malaria is still the priority in public health,” Ung Phirun, secretary of state for the Ministry of Health, said last week at the National Malaria Center’s annual conference. “Every year, malaria has always killed about 1,000 people [in Cambodia] and about 100,000 people get sick because of malaria.”

In 1999, 4.99 percent of the mal­aria cases resulted in death, compared to 5.09 percent fatalities in 1998, according to figures released at the conference. In terms of malaria cases, there were 139,107 reported in 1999, compared to 140,843 in 1998 and 170,387 in 1997, according to the annual report.

While malaria cases and deaths increased in 1999 in some parts of the country, compared to the previous two years, the report noted this was because improvements in communications and access that have occurred with the recent political stability.

This is especially true in former Khmer Rouge-held areas of Anlong Veng, Malai and Pailin, the report said. The return of people to their homes after the government banned the logging and the early rains in 1999 also contributed to the increase in cases, according to the report.

Other reasons for the increase in severe malaria cases and deaths included an increase of resistance to the quinine treatment in northeastern Cambodia and the presence of fake malaria drugs, the report said.

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